- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is focusing all of his attention on Hurricane Michael-ravaged portions of Florida’s Panhandle, but his attention to duty hasn’t given him much of a boost in his senatorial bid, according to recent surveys.

A Quinnipiac University poll Monday found incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson holding a 6 percentage point lead, meaning Mr. Scott had only gained one point since the last survey by Quinnipiac in September.

Other recent polls detect a much closer race, with one this week from St. Pete Polls having the contest deadlocked at about 48 percent. And while a CNN poll last week also found a 5-point advantage for Mr. Nelson, Florida media cautioned that poll probably overstated Democratic support and did not square with many state surveys that show a tight race

Michael, the most powerful storm to ever hit the Panhandle, has tossed Florida’s elections into some turmoil, requiring the postponement or cancellation of debates and a heavier workload for campaign surrogates.

Mr. Scott announced he would suspend campaign appearances in order to concentrate on the needs of his constituents in the Panhandle and Florida’s northwestern corner, and his camp blistered Mr. Nelson last week for saying he had “done all he could” in the storm’s path and would return to the campaign trail.

Much of Mr. Nelson’s lead is attributable to voting blocs traditionally associated with Democrats, as the incumbent enjoys a significant edge among black and Latino voters, according to Quinnipiac. But Monday’s poll also found Mr. Nelson leading among women voters (59-39), and those who identify as independent (60-38).

“Nelson is just better liked,” said Peter A. Brown, Quinnipiac’s assistant director of polling. “Florida likely voters view him favorably by 10 percentage points, and see Gov. Scott unfavorably by five points.”

Both campaigns have poured millions into the race, with Mr. Scott also drawing on his considerable personal fortune to augment his spending.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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